Michael Bay has not exactly been the critics’ darling, but maybe that will change with the release of his latest summer blockbuster, Transformers. Budgeted shy of $200m, this adaptation of the popular toy and subsequent animated series is destined to be a bona fide hit if reaction at recent screenings is anything to go by. The story of two groups of robots battling it out as a young boy gets involved making the transition from geek to hero, is likely to strike a chord with audiences worldwide.
Bay is still so busy putting finishing touches to his movie, that he greeted a packed press conference to answer many a probing question by an enthused media. Paul Fischer was there and filed this report.
Question: Michael, firstly what’s your reaction to Hot Fuzz which is so inspired by Bad Boyz II and also it’s been said you were offered Die Hard 4 and was wondering if this hadn’t come together would you have considered doing that?
Bay: Um, Die Hard 4? No, I don’t think so. Hot Fuzz, I haven’t seen it yet because I was finishing this movie. It’s really hard at the end of your post schedule. It’s just such a grind. Seeing a movie is like the last thing you want to do when you go home. I thought this would be like an easy post. On our budget we had a hiatus scheduled in here for, you know, ’cause I said ‘My God, I have the longest post schedule’ so I didn’t think the robots would be that hard but I was directing them all the way to the very end.
Question: There seems to be so many disparate elements to this movie and I was wondering how you balance the needs of your vision as a filmmaker with those of Spielberg and those of fans because I notice there are definitely some Spielberg elements to this film?
Bay: Well I mean, you know, I make my own movie. I don’t have someone tell me what to do. I’ve always been inspired by Steven. I was not a transformer fan before I signed on to this movie. I think I was two years older when the toys came out so I just discovered girls instead but I quickly became, after I went to Hasbro, where you heard about that Transformer school, I’m really thinking ‘What the fuck am I going to Hasbro for Transformer school’. They actually – I thought I was going to learn how to fold up robots but I met with the CEO and I went through the whole Transformer law and I was, I’ve been offered a lot of superhero movies before and nothing’s really appealed to me and I, you know, in the room, because I’ve been such a fan of Japanese anime, it just hit me that if I make this really real, it could be something very new and different and so I quickly became probably one of the bigger Transformer fans in the world. And I tried to make this movie for non Transformer fans. OK? And I wanted it to be a little bit more if you could say ‘adult’. So I’m sure I’m going to get flack for ‘You made an edgy movie on a toy. How’s that going to affect kids?’ I know there are Transformer fans that are like forty years old.
Question: Michael one thing I kept hearing from this movie is, from the actors, is what a great actor’s director Michael Bay is. There seems to be a whole new thing that we haven’t really heard before. Did you do something different?
Bay: No, listen. I mean press is very weird because, what gets out there is ‘Michael Bay yells’. It’s like listen, I visited Jim Cameron on Titanic. I’m very similar to the way he directs. He’s an Assistant Director and I’m an Assistant Director of my own set. I move my own sets. I shoot very fast. I never leave the set. And I love working with actors. I love giving actors freedom. I love like improving with actors. It freaks studios out because they’re like ‘That wasn’t in the script. That was in the script. What’s this? He’s wreckin’ the movie!’ and I’m like ‘Trust me. It’s going to be funny’. Because there’s a whole issue of tone in this movie. But, you know, when I’m doing action scenes I’m going to be your worst nightmare basketball coach, you know. That’s to get the energy and the adrenalin going.
Question: So you’ve always let them improvise. How much would you say was improvised here and what about the Armageddon joke that we get in the movie?
Bay: Well that’s just me. I’m like, ‘OK, this kid is so funny.’ I’m like ‘Dude you’ve got to say this alright?’ He’s just funny. So, you guys all laughed right? Yeah I’ll often add jokes along the way. Like a perfect example, because I will always hire actors that have a good improve skill. Like Nick Cage in The Rock. There was really nothing funny in The Rock in the script. And that was all through improv and just trying to work with the guys and try to make it funny. A good example in this scene was when the parents knocked on the door in the bedroom when he was hiding the robots. In the script it said ‘Maybe he’s MAS’ and like that was the joke. And that’s pretty lame. So we actually brought ’em in the room and we just started this whole masturbation talk. And that’s because the mom is such an amazing New York, actress she’s in New York plays.
Question: I believe that you said you had no nostalgia for the Transformers. Did that make it easier to make the film like a doctor operating on a stranger versus a friend?
Bay: Well listen, I’m a huge Transformer fan now. I can officially say I probably should have thought more about robots on earth than anyone in the past year and a half. But yeah I actually think that because I wasn’t a fan, I think makes it more accessible to other people, you know? Does that make sense?
Question: I guess because you’re coming in fresh the way people who aren’t familiar with it …
Bay: Right. You know, and like Megatron was a gun. And I’m like ‘Oh, it’s gotta be – I don’t get that’ and I did get a lot of flack from fans on the net. Like ‘Michael Bay, you wrecked my childhood’. ‘Michael Bay, you suck’. ‘We’re going to protest at his office’. They protested my old office, apparently. That’s true. You know, but that’s freaked me out. But, you know, I would listen to fans on the net. I really would. I would kind of hear their comments but I’m still going to make my movie and I’ll still put flames on Optimus.
Question: That helped actually because …
Bay: It did right? You see?
Question: I thought you gave him lips
Bay: Well because, you know, we did a lot of studies, facial studies. And it just – emotional is so hard without that kind of movement, you know. We tried it solid. It just didn’t look right.
Question: There’s talk that they’re hoping maybe to get Transformers II if this one is a success, as everyone’s assuming it’s going to be, some time next year. But aren’t you going to be busy with Prince of Persia?
Bay: I don’t know, I leave my negotiation open. Because the President of Paramount’s right behind you, so – he can probably kill me. I don’t know what I’m doing right now. There’s no script right now.
Question: But you are directing Prince of Persia.
Bay: I don’t know. No, I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.
Bay: I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m unemployed right now. I finished the movie like a week ago.
Question: I wanted to ask, you’ve mentioned the tone of the film and I was wondering how you managed to balance between what seems to be a, I don’t mean routine, but a somewhat normal recognisable action film with the Transformers?
Bay: I mean when Steven called me like a year and a half ago, he said ‘I want you to direct Transformers. It’s a story about a boy who buys his first car’. To me that was a great hook. I hung up, I said ‘Thank you’. And I said ‘I’m not doing a stupid silly toy movie’. But I thought about it, the hook was great because that’s such a launching ground from a young adult into manhood or womanhood. It just, I liked the simplicity of it, OK? And it just made it somewhat more accessible. I mean if you notice I shot this movie very kind of generic. I mean I’ve never in my life shot at a Burger King, OK? Or a guy riding on a pink bicycle or a house that’s kind of like very suburbia. But it just makes it more acceptable and accessible to the ultra slick uberaction around it. That charm of the movie is, to me, in thinking about it was I kept having this image of this kid trying to hide robots from his parents in his house and that just stuck in my head as we were writing the script. So to me that was the whole charm of it.
Question: Michael, I think it’s safe to say you didn’t do as well with The Island. I’m just wondering, did that affect how you approaching this one?
Bay: You know, I liked The Island and the thing is the reaction to The Island, it worked really well overseas. And I knew it would never be a smash because it’s not that type of movie. And I continually have so many people come up to me and say ‘God that movie’s so good’ but no one new about it in America. I mean I asked five hundred people before it came out. They didn’t even know when it was coming out. You saw our poster campaign, we had a muddled campaign. I knew we were in trouble with that movie domestically like four months out. And I kept saying ‘You should go with the Warners campaign’ which did the forum so it was a whole kind of, Michael calls ’em studio marketing.
Question: Did you change your attitude in directing, that you think maybe you had to change your style of directing?
Bay: No. You know the thing is you get right back on the horse again. There are so many directors that are like ‘Oh it didn’t open. Oh my god, I’m over’. And it’s like ‘You know what? Screw it. Get back on the horse. Let’s go.’ You know? So I finished The Island and three weeks later I was doing Transformers.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about the casting of Shia and also what you see as the underlying theme or message if there is one in this movie?
Bay: Well the underlying theme to me is really ‘No sacrifice, no victory’ and that was something that I wanted to nail. I thought it was, my movies often deal with the hero archetype and the boy becoming a man, kind of like Nick Cage becoming a hero in The Rock or Shia, same thing. It’s just kind of, when he got to carry that cube and sacrifice his life … your first question was casting Shia. It’s very scary when you’re trying to hinge a whole movie on a kid. And I had seen him in that – I had only seen one of his movies, Constantine. And I thought ‘He’s interesting but he looks so old’. And Ian Bryce, one of my producers, says ‘You should look at this kid, Shia.’ And I’m like ‘OK.’ And he was coming in and I saw some of his other movies and I really liked ’em. And then I talked to Steven. I said ‘Have you seen Shia?’ and he goes ‘Oh yes he’s great. I love Shia.’ And he came in for the audition and he just, he nailed and I liked his improve skill. I liked how he was very able to take direction and mould and he was kinda – I didn’t want the geek, you know. What I like about Shia, when I think every guy’s been in that circumstance by the pond or the lake where the stud comes up to you and gives you shit and instead of doing, he comes right back with wit and humour and every guy likes him right then and there, I think. I mean, do you guys think so? You know, I don’t think there’s a kid today that could have done a better job. He’s a pain in the ass to work with, let me tell you.
Let me tell you a funny story. I always like to put my actors in real circumstances. And we had him, there was a seventeen story downtown with a statue and my producer says ‘How do you want to shoot that?’ He goes ‘We’re going to do a blueskin right?’ And I said ‘Nah, fuck. We’re going to put him up there.’ And we put him on wires, alright? And we rigged it, very safe, but there was only four inches of stand on and Shia’s like ‘Yeah I think I can do it. I’m going to go up there. So we’re ready to go and he goes, and mind you I would never go out there on my own. I would never do this. Bu he goes ‘Oh man I can’t get up there. I can’t get up there.’ I said ‘Dude you’re going to embarrass yourself in front of the whole crew’ aright? ‘You get paid way more than those kids on Fear Factor. Get the fuck up there.
So he did it and it was really scary but it’s, you know, he was on cloud nine when he did it.
Question: Do you ever foresee a time when you might want to do a little intimate low budget character study of some kind?
Bay: I’ve got this one I keep trying to do it, called Pain Again. It’s a really funny character story. I keep talking about it. We’re going to be here next year and we’re going to talk about it again. And it’s like I just I just keeping saying ‘Yes’ and do these big movies. Sometimes it’s a fear of like ‘Are big movies going to go away?’ So, you know, Hollywood is kind of tough right now so I don’t know.
Question: What’s it about?
Bay: It’s about, it’s very Pulp Fictiony true story. It’s about these knuckleheads that kidnap and murder, searching for the American dreams in all the wrong ways. It’ very funny. All true.
Question: Michael we’ve seen how James Cameron went from making huge physical action films into 3D computer general 3D films. Could you ever see yourself moving in that direction?
Bay: Honestly I think I’d want to shoot myself working on a blue screen stage. I mean I did like maybe one, two days of blue screen on this movie. I just hate it. It’s just, I like doing things real and it’s just really hard to go there, you know.
Question: How conscious were you of trying to appeal to a female audience casting Josh Duhamel. Can you tell us a little bit about the female thing?
Bay: I actually met with Josh for one of my Platinum Dunes movies. And I really liked him. I got a sense of him in the room there. That was like four months prior. And this thing came up. And it was, you know, it was a very efficient budget. I honestly, I had no money for stars so I had to be very creative in picking people that I thought were going to break and after meeting him I really liked him so I wanted to work with him.
Question: And so with Julie White’s character who’s great
Bay: Awesome. I mean, you know, it’s just – she didn’t have that many lines in the movie and I just kept, you know, Kevin and her were just funny. They just kept doing stuff and I just love his blue collar sensibility and I’ve always wanted to do that joke with the grass. That’s my lawyer. He does that to his kids. He doesn’t let ’em go on the grass.
Question: I wanted to know, as a filmmaker you seem to get more of your budget onscreen than almost anyone else. You get $150 million, it looks like $250 million. What’s your secret?
Bay: My secret is I shoot very, very fast. On average a director will shoot twenty set-ups a day. I do about seventy-five. And they’re real set-ups. It’s not like, we work twelve hour days. I don’t go overtime. But we work very hard. I work with my same crew. I gave 30% of my fee because they were going to ship me to Canada or Australia and I said ‘No, I want to shoot with my guys’. It’s a team that I’ve worked with for like close to sixteen years. And it’s just, you know, I like to keep the movies in Los Angeles if I could. And especially keep ’em in the States. We just save so much money because I have really good people. And I don’t know, we just make it an efficient day. And I think music videos give me a sense of I’m able to shoot fast and when the shit hits the fan, which it always does on a movie, you’ve got to figure out your plan A and B. And I do this system called leapfrog. I mean, like I said, the whole AD thing that gets out there, ‘Michael Bay yells’. ‘Oh Michael Bay is being the Assistant Director’. ‘OK. Three shots, we’re doing this’ and ‘I want you to prep that’. Blah blah blah blah. So we’re leapfrogging. We’re almost ready for the next shot. It’s almost hard. Actors don’t even go back to their trailers, as you’ve probably already heard. ‘Tyrese put your clothes back on!’. He would always take his clothes off. And you know, it’s a lot of stuff to put back on, you know. So I don’t know, I guess that’s the way.
Question: Getting back to the thing about tone of the movie,I was just wondering, how did you guys arrive at the tone?
Bay: You know, I think it was just my gut, you know. I knew that it’s Transformers. You can’t take it too seriously. But you wanted to get that sense of realism. That’s why the military involvement was very important, that we make it very real and credible. Like those guys on the AWAX those are all the real guys. I told ’em ‘This is what’s going down on the ground. What would you say?’, and literally within two minutes they were ‘bam, bam, bam, bam, bam’ and I just photographed what they said. So I think you mix the realism with Tyrese being in the worse situation and he says ‘Man if you could see this shit’. I mean that sounds real but it comes in a funny way. And you know, I made little jabs here and there like, you know, that’s way too smart for Iranian scientists, you know. Or I mean how much do you get bugged by those outsourcing calls. You know, the calls out there? I mean it just bugs me. You know what? I forget to pay my AT&T bill. I get a call. Mr Bay? They’re calling from Bombay and I’m like ‘I didn’t pay it’. You know, anyway.
Question: As a director you somehow manage to get your emotion in an action film so what is more important for you? Is there a balance that you’re seeking between the story and action?
Bay: Yeah I mean you want it to feel real and what I try to do is, especially with actors who are doing action stuff. The crew jokes, calling it ‘Bayos’, right? But you try to have a little bit of chaos. It’s very organised. But you get them a little fritzed, you know. Because it just gives them more adrenalin, you know. It’s a little bit of the unknown. And they will have a lot of loud bombs and stuff like that on the set if that’s what it calls for. And I like to, you know, see the real emotion when they’re inside these action scenes.
Question: What’s more important for you? Your story or action or do you find a balance?
Bay: No it’s both. It’s a balance..
Question: I’m curious in that you said that you are your own Assistant director. Is that because of the scale of the project or do you have a group of people who work at the pace that you would like them too?
Bay: I just love it. I don’t know. It’s just my thing. It just keeps me interested. It keeps me, you know, my thing is I’ll get to set usually forty-five minutes after everyone’s there because I don’t like people, you know, watching them eat burritos and their eggs. I’m like ‘I want to go to work’. So they’re always on the radio and they go ‘Bay’s comin’ in hot. He’s comin’ in hot’. But it just keeps me really involved. It’s just my thing. I don’t know. That’s the creative part for me.
Question: Tell us a little bit about what was going on in your head at the first press screening. Is it a nerve wracking experience watching it on the screen for you the first time?
Bay: Yes, it’s so nerve wracking. It’s like, you want me to describe the testing process? Real quick. Like I do little focus groups on my own. I’ll take like thirty kids into a little screening room. I’ll do like nine year olds to fifteen year olds and then I’d have like sixteen year olds, twenty-five year olds, I have someone that has nothing to do with movies. He comes in and says ‘You can say whatever you want about this movie’. I’d show them in rough form. And they were great because they’ll fill out little pages of what’s confusing them, what lines they thought ‘sucked’. I mean they’re very blunt about it. And there was something where they hated Megan. She said one line and the women just turned off. And I’m like ‘We gotta deal with that’. So then I get to the big test in Phoenix where we did like 450 people. It was all families. And I’m like ‘Ah, the kids are cute ’cause their applauding at different things’ you know, then ‘Oh they all laughed at the masturbation thing and they’re all nine years old’ and I’m like, I don’t know. And I’m like ‘OK that went well’ and then I went out and I went to the adult screening next door, introduced that and doing the little sound button thing. This guy sitting next to me goes ‘What’s that’. I said ‘It’s just the sound’. And he goes ‘What do you do?’ I said ‘I’m the director’. So the movie started, they were like laughing and applauding at certain things and I’m thinking ‘Oh this sucks. This movie sucks. It’s kiddie movie’, alright? And I said to the guy, I said ‘Do you like this type of movie?’ and he goes ‘Erh, you know’ and I’m like ‘Alright? It’s a kid movie. It’s a kid movie’. So all these emotions go through your head. And we did a focus group.
I ran out and we did a focus group with the kids and the parents and like the focus group. Twenty-six out of twenty-six gave it an excellent. I’m like ‘Oh that’s interesting.’ Our scores were gigantic and I’m like ‘OK that’s ’cause it’s a kid movie’.
Then I went to the adult focus group and then we got the same score. We got like a 95 and I’m like ‘That’s weird’. A lot of the older ladies, like 35, 40. They’re like ‘I didn’t want to come here.’ ‘I didn’t want to see this. I was dragged here’. And it’s true. And this one lady, she goes ‘This kind of reinvents superheros’ because she said a great line. She goes, ‘It’s like we’re tired of the suits and the capes and whatever. I mean this is totally new and different.’
So anyway, it’s still nerve wracking. Do you know what I’m saying? That was a long, boring answer.
Question: John Turturro mentioned that he based a lot of his character on you. I was wondering if that’s something you guys discussed and what you felt about it.
Bay: No I was scared to work with John Turturro. I was like ‘Oh John’. He came out like a little corgi, and when he had that hat, that was the first day I worked with him at the dam and I’m like ‘OK, I don’t know about that. I don’t know.’ I don’t know, I grew to really like working with John. I don’t know if he based it on me. It’s just – I do think criminal are odd by the way. No, kidding. I don’t know if he based it on me. He said that but you should see his Scorsese imitation. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Question: Some of this movie plays almost like a recruiting video for the military. You have a pretty good relationship with this and you talk about the military elements in the film it seems like you grounded the film more in reality or …
Bay: Well here’s the thing. If you’re going to have – you’ve gotta have the external alien invasion and to make it credible you’re going to have military. And I just don’t like when you see like in Independence Day and they don’t get military support. And you’ve got like few jeeps and you’ve got this and everything’s kind of mismatched and it’s all digital planes and it’s like, it’s just not credible, you know. And so you needed that reality so you can ground this little kids’ story. And I’ve had a good relationship with them on Armageddon and Pearl and I somehow convinced them – this is the largest cooperation since Black Hawk and Pearl for them. I think they like me because I really respect the military and I respect the soldier, you know, the people, the men and women that really will sacrifice themselves and those guy around Josh and Tyrese, they’re all the real guys. They’re all special op SEALs. It’s fascinating. I’m just enamoured with people that will really go to combat. It’s just a wild thing.
Question: You got a lot of equipment and ships and planes and all that stuff.
Bay: But you know, if you look at the theme, ‘No sacrifice, no victory’, I think that’s the way they see it. And they just want to be treated credibly, you know, they want it to be show in a real light, you know. If you’re fighting scorpanauts, how would they do an air strike. And so we literally show you exactly how it happens, you know.
Question: Do you know if they are retired?
Bay: No those are guys that have either taken leave, I mean some of them were actually going to get called back to Iraq and then they all, this is the thing that happens with all of them, they get the Hollywood bug. We called one of them ‘Hollywood’. He trains US SEALs down in Escondido And I said ‘Dude, just go back to being a SEAL’.
Question: Can I ask you about GM’s involvement?
Bay: OK. I mean, I had $145 million. I needed to find a car company that can give me a bunch of vehicles and save 3 million bucks. And I opened it up to every car company. I have a relationship with GM because I’ve done commercials for them. They’ve helped me on my other movies by giving me flood damage cars, these are cars that have to be destroyed, and they took me to Skunkworks, which is where they do the prototype cars. There’s a secret place somewhere. And I saw that car and I’m like ‘That’s Bumble Bee’. And so it helped save 3 million bucks and it was a great looking car.
Question: We heard there was a GM guy on set who wouldn’t let them smudge the leather but when he wasn’t around you’d race the car through gravel at 140 mph.
Bay: No that’s completely bull. No, no we did have the one prototype. The prototype are really hard because the cost like $5 million to make. We made our own. We had the cad file for that car out there, which is a Celine chassis and we made it like in six weeks in Detroit really fast.
Question: How have you changed as a filmmaker throughout the past decade?
Bay: I’m older, crankier. No I’m not cranky. No I don’t. I actually don’t. I crack a lot of jokes though. I tease people.
Question: Have you?
Bay: Yeah I get a little bit. But what were you going …?
Question: How you’ve changed the most. Is this movie very different do you think to its predecessors for you?
Bay: Someone said to me in Australia. They said ‘After The Island did you want to go back to your more safe routes?’ and I just thought this idea, if it was done in a cool way, could be a big idea. And a fun movie idea. A fun summer movie. And I liked the challenge of taking something that hasn’t been done and trying to – working with my team of artists for eight months, nine months and my digital effects companies to try and create characters that are made out of thin air. And it was something really challenging for me to do – it’s like doing an animated move. Working with animator is such a great process. And the end result, it’s like you look t these things and they’re like ‘You look at Bumble Bee and it looks like there’s a soul inside this thing’. So that was a fun challenge for me.
Question: Thinking of that, the scene in the back yard is so wonderful and so much of that is comic timing with these four characters who aren’t going to be there until much later. How did you create that kind atmosphere?
Bay: Well what I do is I do a series of animatics which are crude cartoons and, a movie really comes to life – I mean I’m working with the writers and I’m creating a new script but it all starts down with the concept drawings. And it’s like that becomes the tone of the movie. I showed Steven a picture of Megatron in the hangar and he goes ‘Oh my god I love that. That’s the movie’ and I’m like ‘I know’. And that’s how you get the tone, you know. I think the dog peeing was something we made up. That’s where we tied a little string to his leg and lifted up to nothing there and they added in the squirt and you know, it’s just really good to work with someone like a Shia or a Megan where they can actually see a cartoon and they’re looking at window washer poles which is tough. And you just keep doing it.
Question: Michael which directors do you like?
Bay: Oh god, I mean, everyone always asks me this question. It’s just, you know, from Kubrick to – I’ve always been a huge fan of the Cohen brothers. I mean, Raising Arizona was such an instrumental film in like how I’ve done some of my commercials and just that comic timing. A lot of people didn’t get that movie when it came out. But I just, you know, from Steven to Cameron to Scorsese. When I was young, you probably heard, I worked at Lucas Film. When I was fifteen I was like a librarian and I filed Raiders of the Lost Ark story boards. It was how I got interested in the business.
Question: Who or what inspired you to, I don’t know, believe in yourself enough to actually follow this idea that you could do something? Who was it and what did they tell you?
Bay: Who was it? I don’t know. You know when I was young I wanted to be a veterinarian. And I remember raising money because told – they took me to a place where they gas the dogs and cats and I’m like ‘Oh my god. I can’t believe this exists in the world’. I have many different interests. I wanted to be a magician. So I was inspired by that. I realised there’s no money in being a magician so I gave it up and I liquidated all my tricks to another competing group that was twelve.
Question: But you continued to dream. Who said ‘Hey Michael, keep doing it’.
Bay: You know, I think it was my parents really. They kind of encouraged me to do art and I bought a camera when I was thirteen and I just loved taking pictures and so it was really my parents. I mean my dad was an accountant. I remember, this is funny, when I was young I was a big baseball player but I had this model train set and I would go into my world. I made a very detailed HO gauge train set and I remember one summer I spent eight months building this thing. Fully detailed and I’d go into my imaginary world. And my dad and mom came into the bedroom one day and they go, ‘Son, we think you need to get out more’. So that’s where I started imagining. I think the train sets is where I kind of made my own little movies in my head.
Question: After this film is a monster hit, are you going to be willing to jump back in and do a sequel and have your already thought about what characters you’d like to introduce in the next film?
Bay: I’ve got some really cool stuff that I came up with the first one that was just too expense. Stuff, yeah, really cool. Steven was ‘Right no, we should pull back and not have as many robots, so we can really focus more’. I mean I wish I got into some of the faces more of some of the robots. But it was really Steven who said ‘I think we should just make it like five against five or five against six or something like that’. So it was good that we scaled back a bit.
Question: Would you be willing to jump right back in and do a sequel.
Bay: You know, maybe a little break, but we’ve got to come up with a good story first.
Question: Your special effects gentleman, Scott, said that this is the first giant robot movie in live action that he could think of. Were you conscious of that? Were you conscious of creating a new subgenre and did that give you any kind of freedom?
Bay: Well it just, let me tell you these robots didn’t come out good at first. I mean it was hard. It was not all peaches and cream at ILM. I mean there was a lot of angry phone calls, like ‘We have to do better. We have to do better’. Because they thought they were settling on something and I’m like ‘No. This is unacceptable.’ And I just kept pushing them and pushing them and pushing them and, you know, we came up with a really good visual thing. I wanted them not to be clunky lumbering robots. I mean I looked at a lot of Kung-Fu movies. I wanted them to have a different type of movement. And I would just clip different things from different movies and I’d reference those to the animators, how they should move.
Question: Were you conscious of creating a new subgenre?
Bay: Yeah because if they sucked, if they were horrible, the movie was doomed, or is doomed. So you got a lot of pressure there trying to make it work, you know. And you got pressure from, you know, the fans saying you wrecked their childhood and all this about complaining, ‘We don’t like the look of ’em’ and you just had to hold to your guns. You just had to, you know, the fans wanted me just literally to take these cartoons and blow ’em up and it’s like literally the equivalent of Ghostbusters with the Marshmallow Man. It just wouldn’t work. They need to be much more complex the way they are.
Question: You made a reference earlier that you think that Hollywood’s big movies are going away …
Bay: I don’t know. It’s like you do a movie then you’re unemployed. You know what I’m saying? So it’s just like, I don’t know, it’s just yeah, I think Hollywood’s got some stumbling blocks here and there. You know, there is a business going and there are very few, not a lot of big movies that are made. It’s just not.
Question: This is a big summer for movies.
Bay: I know. That’s good. A lot of people are going to the movies.
Question: And you don’t think that’s going to continue?
Bay: Yes it will. It’s just good to like think it’ll never end.